Two men and a woman who were homeless were arrested early this morning in connection with the fires of homeless encampments. This is unbelievable and terribly sad that three people who are homeless and living out of a tent would set fires to their own tens and those of others. The police believe that the fires set this last week were intentional in order to get sympathy and three nights that a local charity paid for a motel stay. Let it never be said that most homeless people want to sleep outside in a tent. This group was willing to set their own tents on fire and endanger others for three nights in a motel. They risked going to jail to get a short time off the streets.
We know that one of the guys was branded for life as a sexually based offender, and so he would have a nearly impossible time finding housing. Please don't leap to the conclusion that all homeless people are criminals. Some are fragile mentally, some are criminals and some are just looking for work. Any collection of over 4,000 people (the number of people homeless in Cleveland on any given night) will have criminals, con artists, and mentally ill people as members of the group. We can't paint the whole group based on the actions of a few.
Everyone was on edge after two fires this week, and we hope that these arrests put an end to these fires. We were not sure if these were outsiders coming down to the sites out of hate or was this a personal grudge. We got out the word to try to keep people safe. If these three did what the police are alleging, we hope that they are prosecuted. We know that many valuables and important documents were destroyed in a previous fire. We know a cat was killed at one of the other encampments. We know these fires terrorized the individuals living rough in Cleveland. We know that people were relocating to safer and less visible places. This make it more difficult to provide services or housing to people who are hiding from the world. We will work with those outside to rebuild trust and peace of mind.
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